In November 1981, the University of Texas at Austin hosted a Conference on Scientific Ocean Drilling (COSOD), which was attended by an international group of nearly 150 earth scientists. COSOD was first proposed by the passive- and active-margins panels of the Joint Oceanographic Institutions for Deep Earth Sampling (JOIDES) as a forum where the earth science community could update scientific priorities and deliberate on the most productive ways to sample rock from the world's ocean basins. The results of this forum had the potential to guide the direction of scientific ocean drilling, particularly as its future was being reshaped.
About a year ago, the proposed program was disproportionately weighted toward drilling on the eastern U.S. margin, and some significant subjects in previous drilling programs became much less important. Unfortunately, the COSOD report is similarly unbalanced, but in a contrary direction. The COSOD report has shifted consideration from the margins to an emphasis on the deep ocean basins. Scientific ocean drilling is vital for research in many fields of the earth sciences, and the Glomar Challenger facility has an unmatched record of providing a means to solve problems across earth science disciplines. Therefore, any new drilling program should be of sufficient scope to advance the earth sciences as a whole.